Caramelized Applesauce with Pecans & Raisins

The secret ingredient in this decadent applesauce, the butter, is a French tradition that adds richness and heightens the flavor of the fruit and nuts. The sauce is terrific on its own, or use it as a filling for crepes and tarts or a topping for ice cream.

1/3 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons cognac, brandy or apple juice
2 lb. Pink Lady, McIntosh or other soft cooking apples, peeled, coarsely chopped (generous 6 cups)
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (depending on tartness of apples)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Dash salt
3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted, coarsely chopped*

1. Soak raisins in cognac in small bowl.

2. Meanwhile, bring all remaining ingredients except 1 tablespoon of the butter and pecans to a boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are very soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Increase heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter; cook, uncovered, 5 to 8 minutes or until apples are light brown and caramelized, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins and pecans; cook 1 minute. Serve warm or cool completely. Cover and store in refrigerator.

TIP *To toast pecans, place on baking sheet; bake at 375°F. for 4 to 6 minutes or until slightly darker in color. Cool.

8 (1/2-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 215 calories, 10 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1.5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 2.5 g fiber